Foods That Curb Stress

Stress can kill you….literally. And no matter how healthy your eating habits are or how much kale you consume in a day, you are not immune to the negative effects of stress.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your stress level?

Chronic stress negatively affects every system in your body, and can be the culprit behind weight gain, digestive issues, and fatigue.

And, it’s a scientific fact that stress can literally kill you. In Japan there is a word for it: Karōshi , which means death from overwork. YIKES! In the United States, we recognize Broken Heart Syndrome, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, which in some cases, can also be fatal. But…are we over-looking a major trend in our society of ignoring stress?

So, what are you doing to manage your stress? My first recommendation is to practice meditation. Meditation has a multitude of health benefits like lowering blood pressure, returning heart rate to its natural rhythm, etc. but today, let’s talk food.

Here are 7 foods that actually help curb our stress levels – check it out.

7 Anti Stress Foods

kale

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens contain high levels of magnesium, a critical mineral for managing stress. Stress depletes your body of magnesium, and this can lead to headaches, anxiety, and restlessness.  You won’t feel the results of eating greens instantaneously, so be sure to keep them in daily rotation to reap the benefits.

chia pudding

 Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a good source of magnesium, a critical mineral for managing stress and mitigating depression. Plus they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits to the brain, resulting in less stress and anxiety. In fact, some doctors and researchers believe the growing epidemic of depression and anxiety in our population has something to do with our diet, including widespread omega-3 deficiency. Add chia seeds to your morning smoothie. Add chia seeds to your peanut butter and celery, sprinkle chia seeds in your salad.

avocado

Avocado

Creamy avocados are high in stress-busting B-vitamins, which support healthy nerves and brain cells. In fact, some studies suggest feelings of depression and anxiety may be linked to B Vitamin deficiency. I put avocado in everything; eggs in the morning, salad in the afternoon, as a side for dinner! I’ve been known to cut open an avocado and eat it right out of the skin with a spoon!

walnut

 Nuts

Nuts, including almonds, cashews, and walnuts contain zinc, a mineral that plays a crucial role in modulating the way the brain and body respond to stress. They’re also a good source of stress-busting magnesium. Check out my recipe for Roasted Pecans with Rosemary, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt

dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate

There’s no mistaking the feel good rush we feel after biting into a piece of dark chocolate. That’s because it boosts our serotonin levels, which also boosts our mood and makes us feel happier. In addition, studies indicate that polyphenols found in cocoa can reduce stress.

Opt for dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa (85% is even better!) and a gentler natural sweetener such as coconut sugar. Better yet, add pure cocoa or cacao powder to your smoothie, sprinkle on your almond butter or throw it in any dessert recipe. And please look for fair-trade chocolate. Endangered Species Chocolate

green tea

 Green Tea

Having a cup of green tea instead of the usual frap not only gives your body a break from high levels of caffeine – population studies indicate it reduces stress too. (Note there is still caffeine in green tea, just less than coffee, and it tends to be gentler on the body). Other studies have singled out theanine, an amino acid found in the tea, for promoting relaxation and anti-stress effects.

beans

 Beans, surprised?

Beans, like chickpeas, black beans, and cannellini beans, provide high levels of folate, a B Vitamin that has been scientifically shown to reduce and relieve stress by regulating your mood. They’re also a good source of B6 which supports the central nervous system and may aid in the reduction of fatigue.

Experiment with your food, have fun, keep a journal of how you felt an hour or so after eating – and whatever works, stick with it!

I’ll post more about meditation in the next few weeks.

Pictures by:

Tookapic, mali maeder, Brenda Godinez, Markus Spiske, Paul Morris

 

 

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